British PM Johnson meets Saudi crown prince during his gulf tour

Mar 16, 2022: During a visit to the Gulf, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) in Riyadh to for talks aimed at ending dependence on Russian oil and gas supplies.

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman also attended the meeting on Wednesday, the Saudi Press Agency SPA reported, adding that Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom had signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a Strategic Partnership Council.

Johnson is one of the few Western leaders to visit Riyadh since 2018 following the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashkji at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Earlier on Wednesday, Johnson was in the United Arab Emirates, where he met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and “discussed opportunities to increase collaboration on energy security, defence and trade”, a statement posted on the British premier’s Twitter account said.

“I’m visiting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who are key partners in ensuring regional security and stabilising global energy markets after Russia’s unprecedented, brutal and illegal invasion,” Johnson wrote on Twitter.

“The leaders welcomed the longstanding partnership between our two countries and discussed opportunities to increase collaboration between the UK and UAE on energy security, green technology, and trade,” a Downing Street spokesperson said in London.

“When we look at the dependency the West in particular has built up on Putin’s hydrocarbons, on Putin’s oil and gas, we can see what a mistake that was because he’s been able to blackmail the West.”

“The world must wean itself off Russian hydrocarbons and starve Putin’s addiction to oil and gas,” he said in a statement.

“Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are key international partners in that effort.”

Britain’s leaders are trying to contain oil prices, which rose to about ً 140 a barrel before falling below 100, and help end the West’s dependency on Russian oil following President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

His visit coincides with a recent condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, when 81 people were executed in a mass execution on Saturday. Rights groups have questioned whether they have been given a fair trial.

Johnson’s spokesman said the prime minister would also ask MBS to condemn Putin for attacking Ukraine. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the world’s two largest oil exporters, both have ties to Moscow and have so far refrained from taking a stand against Russia.

But Johnson said before leaving that the effects of Putin’s “brutal and unprovoked” attack would be felt far beyond Europe. He said that as Western sanctions begin to be lifted, a new international alliance is needed to reduce the impact on consumers who are already feeling the effects of rising inflation.

Russia is the world’s largest producer of gas and one of the biggest oil producers.

Earlier this month, the UK announced plans to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of the year, as part of wide-ranging sanctions targeting Russian businesses and billionaires.

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